FIFO Supervisor files adverse action claim against Rio Tinto

FIFO Supervisor files adverse action claim against Rio Tinto

A Fly in Fly Out (FIFO) Supervisor dismissed by Rio Tinto has commenced an adverse action claim against the mining giant. The Supervisor alleges that his sacking for a safety-related breach in November 2020 disguised the real reason, complaints about working arrangements for interstate FIFO workers stranded in WA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supervisor had been employed by Rio Tinto for nearly ten years, during which time he claims to have had a good performance record. He routinely travelled from his home in Queensland to the company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of WA on a FIFO basis.

In October 2020, while driving to a medical appointment in a company vehicle, he briefly used his mobile phone, which activated the vehicle’s driver safety system and led to his seat vibrating and releasing an audible sound. He claimed that as a result of the seat vibration, he “veered the vehicle within its lane markings and resumed looking at the road”. He reported the safety system’s activation the following day and was suspended by Rio Tinto before then being dismissed.

The Supervisor is pursuing Rio Tinto for more than $200,000 in lost wages and damages.

He claims that Rio Tinto dismissed him not due to the driving incident but rather as the consequence of him proposing more `family-friendly rosters’ during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as making complaints about the quality of working conditions and food provided in the company’s camps.  He proposed that the company replace existing FIFO rosters with a 14:7 roster as support to interstate workers who were restricted from exiting the state due to government regulations.

He has claimed that Rio Tinto acknowledged his rostering suggestion but did not implement the proposal.

In his claim, the Supervisor is alleging that Rio Tinto has breached his Workplace rights under s 340 of the Fair Work Act 2009 by dismissing him to prevent him from making further inquiries about rostering of hours and employees’ site conditions.

As of early March 2021, the company is yet to file its defence to the former employee’s claims.

The matter had been listed to proceed before Federal Circuit Court Judge Gregory Egan on March 16.

AC v Pilbara Iron Company Services Pty Ltd (ACN 107 210 248) BG26/2021

For queries about adverse action or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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